Campaign 2010

Apr 01, 2004

Showdown Coming

From The Hill:

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee may seek to subpoena a top White House aide if he fails to testify today on the Medicare cost-scoring controversy.

Administration officials have said that Doug Badger, President Bush’s top healthcare adviser at the White House, will not testify on what Democrats have dubbed “Medigate.” The White House has cited concerns about the separation of powers in their decision not to let Badger testify.

A House Democratic aide said that the other two Bush administration officials asked to testify —Medicare policymakers Jeffrey Flick and Leslie Norwalk — will answer questions about the suppression of cost projections to Congress.

It is unclear if former Medicare chief Tom Scully will testify tomorrow.

“At this point, Scully is a wild card,” the aide said.

If Scully and Badger do not show, Democrats might make a motion to subpoena them. A majority of the committee must approve the motion for it to clear. The possible move could put Republicans in a difficult position, and it is unclear how they would vote on such a maneuver.

Republicans have declined to defend the administration’s decision to keep the cost estimates under wraps.

You know, there is indeed a question of precedent here, but not the one the administration is harping on.  Perhaps Badger is an “advisor,” but this has nothing to do with any advice he gave the President, it has to do with an order he gave to Scully, who in turn passed it on to Foster (the actuary).  The precedent that will be set, if the administration has its way, is that the executive branch is fully permitted to swindle Congress on the costs of any given bill in regards to any information that is produced within the very broad range of departments that are technically part of the executive.  And furthermore, such dealings - which could very well be criminal (see op-ed in post below) - would be essentially above the law just so long as you had the person doing it call themselves an “advisor.”  Oh, but this is not for the narrow reasons of this administration, the President really just cherishes the executive privacies for all administrations, Democrat or Republican, blah blah blah…

These folks don’t seem to be buying it.

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